Bruce Jay Nelson

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Bruce Jay Nelson
Known forremote procedure call

Bruce Jay Nelson (January 19, 1952 – September 19, 1999) was an American computer scientist best known as the inventor of the remote procedure call concept for computer network communications.

Bruce Nelson graduated from Harvey Mudd College in 1974, and went on to earn a master's in computer science from Stanford University in 1976, and a Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1982. While pursuing his Ph.D., he worked at Xerox PARC where he developed the concept of remote procedure call (RPC). He and his collaborator Andrew Birrell were awarded the 1994 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Software System Award for the work on RPC.[1] In 1996 he joined Cisco Systems as Chief Science Officer.[2]

He died September 19, 1999, due to complications from an aortic dissection, while on a business trip to Tel Aviv, Israel.[2] In 2007 the Birrell and Nelson paper won an operating system hall of fame award from the ACM.[3] Classmates and friends endowed a scholarship in his name at Carnegie Mellon.[4] Harvey Mudd College also named a speaker series in his honor.[5]

He was an avid photographer, backpacker, free-diver and world traveler.[2] His outgoing and eccentric personality included a fascination with crows, leading a friend to name his company "Caw Networks".[6]

Published papers[edit]

  • Birrell, Andrew D.; Nelson, Bruce Jay (February 1984). "Implementing Remote Procedure Calls" (PDF). ACM Transactions on Computer Systems. 2 (1): 39. doi:10.1145/2080.357392. S2CID 11525846.


  1. ^ "1994 – Andrew Birrell, Bruce Nelson: Remote Procedure Call". Software System Award citation. Association for Computing Machinery. Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Obituaries". Palo Alto Online. September 29, 1999. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  3. ^ "SIGOPS Hall of Fame Award". Special Interest Group on Operating Systems. Association for Computing Machinery. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  4. ^ "Bruce Nelson Scholarship Fund". Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  5. ^ "Who was Bruce J. Nelson?". Harvey Mudd College. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  6. ^ "Memory of Bruce Nelson serves as inspiration for new networking company". The Almanac. July 26, 2000. Retrieved July 11, 2011.